All about Binge Drinking

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Too often today’s headlines bring news of yet another alcohol-related tragedy involving a young person, a case of fatal alcohol poisoning on a college campus, or a late-night drinking–driving crash. Binge drinking is an increasingly important topic in alcohol research. The present review summarizes findings and viewpoints from multiple different sources.


Binge drinking is the consumption of an excessive amount of alcohol in a short period, typically being when men consume 5 or more drinks or women consume 4 or more drinks in about 2 hours.

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Binge drinking is one of the greatest concerns among college campuses. The American Medical Association conducted a survey with 95 percent of parents surveyed said that excessive drinking is a serious threat to their children, and the study cited numerous examples of excessive drinking related to injuries, car accidents, violence, and deaths among college students.

In, 2001–2002 about 70 percent of young adults in the United States, or about 19 million people, consumed alcohol in the year preceding the survey, according to the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC).

Young adults are likely to not only binge drink but also drink heavily. Research continuously shows that people tend to drink the heaviest in their late teens and early to mid-twenties. Most people in their late teens and early/mid-twenties are typically in school and college. According, to the 2016 Monitoring the Future Study, 32% of college students reported binge drinking. The Monitoring the Future Study (2005-2016 combined data) revealed during the two weeks prior to the survey about one in eight (12%) college students reported they have consumed 10 or more drinks in a row at least once, including one in twenty-five (4%) who reported consuming 15 or more drinks in a row.

As in the general population, the excessive use of alcohol by youths and young adults creates adverse outcomes in both the short- and long-run. Some particularly concerning negative alcohol-related outcomes for the young population include: risky sexual behavior (often leading to unplanned pregnancies, birth defects, human immunodeficiency virus and other sexually transmitted adult diseases); interpersonal and family violence (sexual and physical assault); criminal activities (theft and vandalism); increased risk of alcohol poisoning and overdosing; increased risk-taking and sensation-seeking behavior (drunk driving). (NIAAA 2010) binge drinking, cost the United States $249 billion in 2010, or $2.05 a drink. These costs resulted from losses in workplace productivity, health care expenditures, criminal justice costs, and other expenses. 77% of these costs, or $191 billion is due to Binge drinking.

Greek Associations

Alcohol use is present at most college social functions, and many students view college as a place to drink excessively. Information gathered from a survey showed that college students drink less than non college students but when college students do drink, they drink in greater quantities than non college students. People entering college or the workforce may be especially vulnerable to the influence of peers because of their need to make new friendships and people often increase their drinking to become more accepting. College students in fraternities and sororities are much more likely to drink where regular college students drink less. The Addiction center says that 4 out of 5 fraternity and sorority members are binge drinkers. In comparison, other research suggests 2 out of 5 college students overall are regular binge drinkers.

According to the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, on average, underage drinkers consume more drinks per drinking occasion than adult drinkers.

In August 2018, The 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that among high school students, 30% drank some amount of alcohol, 14% binge drank, 6% drove after drinking alcohol and 17% rode with a driver who had been drinking alcohol.

In 2016, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health External reported that 19% of youth aged 12 to 20 years drink alcohol and 12% reported binge drinking. Differential association is even more important for underage drinkers seeing how they’re six times more likely to binge drink if they were to be in afrat or sorority (Wechsler, Kulo, 2000).

Students in sororities and fraternities aren’t the only social groups that facilitate excessive drinking in college. Athletes, whether male or female, are significantly more likely to binge drink than nonathletes (Nelson and Wechsler, 2001). Because athletes are more likely to have other friends who are binge drinkers who enjoy sports, partying, tailgating, etc.. where, nonathletes don’t usually run into such people.

Risk and Signs of Binge Drinking

Increased chances of becoming or being a binge drinker include but aren’t limited to being a male, falling within the age range of 18 and 34 years, or being more than 65 years of age, being non-Hispanic white or Hispanic, having higher educational attainment, higher household income. A few signs or reasons as of to why someone may turn to binge drinking could be stress, anxiety, insecurity, desire to fit in relationship trauma, and even family problems. Most college students claim they’re only trying to have a good time, patterns of excessive drinking can be dangerous and lead to devastating consequences. Some risk include, unintentional injuries such as car crashes, falls, burns, and alcohol poisoning, violence including homicide, suicide, intimate partner violence, and sexual assault, sexually transmitted diseases. unintended pregnancy and poor pregnancy outcomes, including miscarriage and stillbirth, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, sudden infant death syndrome, chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, and liver disease, cancer of the breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and colon, memory and learning problems and alcohol dependence.


For college binge drinkers, consequences include Death, about 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor-vehicle crashes, Assault about 696,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking, Sexual Assault, about 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 report experiencing alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape. Roughly 20 percent of college students meet the criteria for Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), and about 1 in 4 college students report academic consequences from drinking, including missing class, falling behind in class, doing poorly on exams or papers, and receiving lower grades overall. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), in 2015, of the 78,529 liver disease deaths among individuals ages 12 and older, 47.0 percent involved alcohol. Among, males, 49,695 liver disease deaths occurred and 49.5 percent involved alcohol. With females, 28,834 liver disease deaths occurred and 43.5 percent involved alcohol. A national survey of college students, binge drinkers who consumed alcohol at least 3 times per week were roughly 6 times more likely than those who drank but never binged to perform poorly on a test or project as a result of drinking and 5 times more likely to have missed a class (Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. 2009).

Research indicates that alcohol use during the teenage years could interfere with normal adolescent brain development. Youth who drink alcohol 1,5,10 are more likely to experience, school problems, such as higher absence and poor or failing grades, social problems, legal problems, such as arrest for driving or physically hurting someone while drunk, physical problems, such as hangovers or illnesses, unplanned, and unprotected sexual activity, physical and sexual assault, higher risk for suicide and homicide, alcohol-related car crashes and other unintentional injuries, memory problems, abuse of other drugs, changes in brain development that may have life-long effects, and death from alcohol poisoning. The general fact is that the risk of youth experiencing these problems is greater for those who binge drink than for those who do not binge drink. Other consequences, include suicide attempts, health problems, injuries, unsafe sex, and driving under the influence of alcohol, as well as vandalism, property damage, and involvement with the police.


When it comes to drinking there are a numerous amounts of preventive steps you could take to either not drink at all or give up drinking before it becomes a bigger problem such as binge drinking or AUD. For underage drinking one of the most important yet most forgetting aid to binge drinking is the continuing influence of parents. Research shows that students who choose not to drink often do so because their parents discussed alcohol use and its adverse consequences with them (NIAAA). Children often do what their parents do and this helps because if the parents stop drinking and the child continues or starts, the influence isn’t coming from the home, instead it’s from an outside source. Other prevention strategies include, enforcement of minimum legal drinking age laws, national media campaigns targeting youth and adults, increasing alcohol excise taxes, reducing youth exposure to alcohol advertising, and development of comprehensive community-based programs. Addressing college binge drinking mostly includes interventions such as, Education and awareness programs, behavioral skills-based approaches, motivation and feedback-related approaches, and behavioral interventions by health professionals. Colleges can also establish alcohol-free college residences and campuses, prohibiting self-service of alcohol at campus events, prohibiting beer kegs on campus, and banning sales or marketing of alcohol on campus. Student who live off campus obviously wouldn’t be affected but making sure that there is only a limited amount of locations that sell alcohol beverages around the campus would make student have to go out of their way in order to receive any alcohol. If alcohol is to far and college students have to waste money on transportation and the alcohol, there’s less money for alcohol and also more of a hassle to get drunk and binge drink.


Research consistently shows that people tend to drink the heaviest in their late teens and early to mid-twenties. Young adults who drink in ways that are especially harmful may have personality characteristics that place them at greater risk for problems with alcohol. Prevention strategies that may be useful in stopping or turning around the young adults alcohol use, focuses on restricting the availability of alcohol. Restricting the availability may include parents being stricter and cutting off any connections to alcohol or it may even include raising prices on alcohol to where it is less affordable and harder to binge drink.


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  3. Powell, Lisa M. “Binge Drinking and Violence among College Students: Sensitivity to Correlation in the Unobservables.” Impacteen, 2002,
  4. “Young Adult Drinking.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2006,
  5. “Alcohol Facts and Statistics.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2018,
  6. “College Drinking Fact Sheet.” NIAAA, 2015,
  7. “CDC – Fact Sheets-Binge Drinking – Alcohol.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2018,
  8. “Drinking and Drug Abuse in Greek Life.” AddictionCenter, 2018,
  9. “CDC – Fact Sheets-Underage Drinking – Alcohol.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2018,
  10. Thombs, D L, et al. “Undergraduate Drinking and Academic Performance: a Prospective Investigation with Objective Measures.” Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Sept. 2009,
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All About Binge Drinking. (2019, Feb 14). Retrieved from